"Going green" is today's buzzword for using products that are environmentally friendly, but in this case, it also means being the envy of your neighbors for having the greenest lawn in town. Even better, there's no watering, fertilizing or mowing.
The new synthetic lawns are so lush and lifelike you won't be able to tell the difference from the real thing. "There are 24 different styles to fit any landscape and budget," says Michelle Taylor, sales representative at Leave Your Mark Landscape Supply in Phoenix. Homeowners who prefer the short, just-mown look can have it permanently. Other lengths, varying shades of green and different types of grasses are available. Extra foam cushioning is available for play areas, and for the ultimate in "real," choose the variety with brownish thatch.
Price and durability are based on thickness, similar to the "thread count" of a sheet, explains Taylor. The backing is a combination of recycled polyethylene fibers for softness and texturized nylon for the thatch structure. While lead content scared people off these lawns, according to U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, people are not at risk for lead exposure, says Pete Cislo, Leave Your Mark owner.
Synthetic lawns are permeable and durable for foot traffic, kids and pets and even sloped yards. Gophers and moles cannot get through them and yellow spots and mud are things of the past. Golfers can improve their short game with a synthetic putting green. Leaves can be raked, blown or even vacuumed off and pet areas can be easily cleaned with a hose. The only drawback, according to Cislo, is that on a very hot day, the surface gets hot and may need to be hosed off for comfort.
Doug Norby, owner of Home Country Club in Grants Pass, has been installing synthetic lawns for 10 years and has seen residential applications increase greatly in the last three or four years. He started with putting greens, but now installs lawns and athletic fields, including one in Grants Pass. He installed the artificial lawns at Veranda Park, on McAndrews in Medford, an excellent place to see some examples because they have two synthetic putting greens, a large synthetic lawn, and a courtyard with a third type of synthetic lawn.
Prices range from $3.39 per square foot to $9 per square foot for the heaviest and thickest style, not including installation, and include warranties of seven to 12 years. Taylor recommends a middle range for heavy traffic and play areas. Synthetic lawns are best installed on a four-inch layer of "quarter ten minus" gravel that has been leveled and compacted. Installation by a contractor ranges from $4 to $8, depending on the site preparation costs.
Applegate residents Don and Rosanne Kozak installed their synthetic lawn two and a half years ago and couldn't be happier. "It's always beautiful and always green," she says.
Installation can be done by homeowners without a lot of technical knowledge or equipment. Rolls of synthetic lawn come in 15-foot widths. The backing is secured into the ground with long threaded nails every six inches along edges and seams and every 12 inches in the middle. Seams are joined with a strong, sticky tape that holds them firmly together.
Medford resident Gary Edwards installed his own successfully and says there were just a few things to watch out for. Cut seams carefully and when piecing together, make sure edges are snug and grass direction is facing the same way so you don't get a patchwork look. And enlist the aid of a strong friend if you are doing a large area because those rolls can get heavy to lift and place.
Then clean out the garage of lawnmowers, edgers, sprinklers, fertilizers and pesticides forever.